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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Research

Student Q&A: Joshua Glaser, Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Joshua Glaser

Josh Glaser, a third-year PhD student in the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program (NUIN), studies computational methods in neuroscience to understand large data sets in the laboratory of Konrad Kording, PhD, associate professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Physiology

Glaser received his bachelor’s degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Illinois–Urbana Champaign. From a young age he was always curious about science, and after his first research experience as an undergraduate student, he knew he wanted to earn a doctorate degree to pursue a career in research.   

Where is your hometown?

I grew up in Skokie, Illinois. 

What are your research interests? 

It is an extremely exciting time to be involved in neuroscience, as the field is entering an age of “big data,” where thousands of neurons are being recorded from simultaneously. My main research interest is applying computational methods to neuroscience in order to understand these large and complex data sets. In particular, I am interested in discovering how large ensembles of neurons encode and transmit information. 

The ability to accurately make sense of extremely large data sets will be important to the advancement of our knowledge in all topics of neuroscience and our understanding of neurological disorders.

What exciting projects are you working on? 

Through Konrad Kording’s lab, I am involved in an exciting collaboration to understand and develop new technologies that could lead to large-scale neural recording. We have been statistically analyzing the capabilities of these technologies, developing algorithms for them, and soon we will start analyzing data.

I am also involved in an exciting collaboration with the lab of Mark Segraves, PhD, associate professor of Neurobiology. In this project, we are aiming to understand the neural basis for how we decide where to look next. There are many visual features that we are more likely to look at, such as very salient objects. We want to know how these features are encoded in the brain.

Why did you choose Northwestern? 

As an undergraduate, I participated in a summer internship in neural engineering program at Northwestern. Over that summer, I worked in Konrad Kording’s lab and had contact with many other helpful Northwestern professors. I had a very positive experience, which made me want to pursue a neuroscience PhD, and ultimately return to Konrad’s lab and Northwestern.

What has been your best experience at Feinberg? 

The people, both in my NUIN classes and in my lab. Being surrounded by so many friendly, positive people has probably been the most important factor in making graduate school such an enjoyable experience so far.

How would you describe the faculty at Feinberg?

The faculty have been very friendly and helpful. They are always willing to make time for students.

What do you do in your free time?

I like to spend time with friends and family. I also enjoy outdoor activities and sports, such as biking, hiking, kayaking, soccer, and basketball.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I plan to stay in academia and do a postdoc. I hope to continue doing research that applies quantitative methods to neuroscience.